The Penalties of Sin
2 Samuel 12:10-12
Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house; because you have despised me…

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house, etc.

1. Sin is connected with suffering. The connection is real, intimate, inevitable. Nothing is more clearly manifest or more generally admitted; yet nothing is more practically disregarded. Men commit sin under the delusion that they can do so with impunity. But "they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same" (Job 4:8; Galatians 6:7).

2. Sin serves to account for suffering; explains and justifies its existence under the righteous and beneficent government of God. The subsequent sufferings of David would have been inexplicable if his great transgression had not been recorded. "The remainder of David's life was as disastrous as the beginning had been prosperous" (Hale). Personal suffering, however, often appears disproportionate to personal transgression (1 Samuel 4:3); and its reason in such cases must be sought in hereditary or other relationships, and in the purposes to which it is subservient. The penalties of sin (such as David suffered) take place -

I. BY DIVINE INFLICTION. "Behold, I will raise up evil against thee," etc. (ver. 11; 2 Samuel 9:27). They are:

1. Necessitated by the justice of God. "Justice is that causality in God which connects suffering with actual sin" (Schleiermacher). He who "despises the commandment of the Lord" ought to be punished.

2. Declared by the Word of God, both in the Law and the prophets. The word of Nathan was a sentence, as well as a prediction of judgment.

3. Effectuated by the power of God, which operates, not only by extraordinary agencies, but also, and most commonly, in the ordinary course of things, and by way of natural consequence; directs and controls the actions of men to the accomplishment of special results; and often makes use of the sins of one man to punish those of another. Natural law is the regular method of Divine activity. In accordance therewith the violation of moral law is followed by internal misery and external calamity, which are closely associated (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:4). "Vengeance is mine," etc.


1. The peculiarity of their form. Not only do they follow sin by way of natural consequence, but also the manner of their infliction corresponds with that of its commission; as that which is reaped resembles that which is sown (1 Samuel 4:1-11). "The seeds of our own punishment are sown at the same time we commit sin" (Hesiod). Having sinned with the sword, his house would be ravaged with the sword; and having sinned by the indulgence of impure passion, he would be troubled in like manner. "Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah! Amnon thought, 'Has my father indulged in it? - Absalom relied on the resentment of the people on account of the double crime. Adonijah fell because he wished to make the best of the precedence of his birth in opposition to him who had been begotten with Bathsheba" (Thenius).

"The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us." There is a tendency in the sin of one to perpetuate itself in others over whom his influence extends, and so to recoil upon himself.

2. The publicity of their exhibition. "For thou didst it secretly," etc. (ver. 12). Falsehood and injustice seek darkness; truth and justice seek light. The evil, which is concealed for the sake of public honour, is followed by public shame.

3. The extent and perpetuity of their infliction. "The sword shall never depart from thine house." "The fortunes of David turned upon this one sin, which, according to Scripture, itself eclipsed every other" (Blunt). "One sin led to another; the bitter spring of sin grew in time to a river of destruction that flowed over the whole land, and even endangered his throne and life" (Baumgarten). Who can tell the far reaching effects of one transgression (Ecclesiastes 9:18)?


1. To manifest the justice of God and uphold the authority of his Law.

2. To exhibit the evil of sin, and deter the sinner himself and others from its commission.

3. To humble, prove, chastise, instruct, purify, and confirm the sufferer. "If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him," etc. (2 Samuel 7:14; Deuteronomy 8:3, 5; Job 5:17; Psalm 94:12; Hebrews 12:6). This last effect is wrought only on those who turn to God in penitence and trust. The forgiveness of sin and restoration to righteousness do not counteract, except in a limited degree, the natural consequences of past transgression; but they transform punishment into chastisement, and alleviate the pressure of suffering and sorrow by Divine fellowship, and the inward peace, strength, and hope which it imparts. "In general the forgiveness of sin has only this result - punishment is changed into fatherly chastisement, the rod into the correction of love. Outwardly the consequences of sin remain the same; their internal character is changed. If it were otherwise, the forgiveness of sins might too readily be attributed to caprice" (Hengstenberg). "The personal forgiveness indulged to the King of Israel, in consideration of his penitence, did not break the connection between causes and their effects. This connection is stamped on the unchanging laws of God in nature; and it becomes every man, instead of arraigning the appointment, to bring support to his domestic happiness by the instrumentality of a good example" (W. White). His family, his kingdom, and even his own character, were permanently affected by his sin. "Broken in spirit by the consciousness of how deeply he had sinned against God and against men; humbled in the eyes of his subjects, and his influence with them weakened by the knowledge of his crimes; and even his authority in his own household, and his claim to the reverence of his sons, relaxed by the loss of character; David appears henceforth a much altered man. He is as one who goes down to the grave mourning. His active history is past - henceforth he is passive merely. All that was high and firm and noble in his character goes out of view, and all that is weak and low and wayward comes out in strong relief. The balance of his character is broken. Alas for him! The bird which once rose to heights unattained before by mortal wing, filling the air with its joyful songs, now lies with maimed wing upon the ground, pouring forth its doleful cries to God" (Kitto, 'Daily Bible Illust.'). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

WEB: Now therefore the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'

Despisers of God
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